On Wednesday the 21st of March, at 12 o’clock Yiolandi, Eleftheria, Asilsu, Mrs. Angelides and I met at the English School where a taxi was waiting for us to take us to the airport. All of us were so excited since we knew that a new chapter was about to start in our lives. None of us had ever experienced anything similar before, but we knew that this trip would be something we would remember and treasure for the rest of our lives.
Our journey would be very tyring. It would take a total of 20 hours to get to our final destination, Lithuania. However, our excitement for the meeting in Lithuania, made our adrenaline rise at its maximum and we were full of energy! We were counting the minutes one by one till the time we arrived.
After 4 hours driving we arrived at Klaipeda, the third largest city ofLlithuania, feeling like zombies. Our host families were waiting for us and I am pleased to say that we became friends with my host, Samanta, from the first moment we met! When we arrived at my host’s house my host family treated me as If I were a member of the family and made me feel at home. They were very kind and tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible. I gave them some traditional giftsI had brought from Cyprus for them and they loved them!
That night, even though I was very tired and I had only slept for about an hour in the plane, I was so anxious and excited about the day that was about to come, that I couldn’t actually rest my mind with some sleep. While in bed, I tried to visualize what the next day would be like.
I had been waiting for the sun to rise desperately. At 7.30 the alarm finally went on and my host got up. We both got ready and left the house. When we got out Samanta asked me if I preferred to walk or take the bus. I had no preference but Samanta looked at me dressed as a hot dog and realized that I was not used to such cold weather, so she suggested that it would be better if we took the bus! She told me that the bus was one of the most popular means of transport amongst youngsters. They could get anywhere they wanted at any time which was a proof for me, that Klaipeda was a safe town.
When we finally arrived at the school I couldn’t believe my eyes! The school reminded me of those schools we see in movies! All the school premises were in a single tall building with 4 floors and huge corridors. As we walked our way to the main hall people were looking at me as if I were an alien! The fact that the majority of the locals were blonde and I was a brunette made me stand out even more!
After a while, we were all gathered at the hall. As I looked around I noticed that for the first few minutes, we all stuck together with people of our countries. Even us, the girls from Cyprus were all sitting at a corner sharing the first impressions of our host families. I suppose everybody was waiting for everybody else to make the first move and break the ice. Nobody was brave enough though, and the ice only begun breaking when the welcoming show started. When a group of small kids started singing with their angel face and sweet voice, a happy atmosphere filled the room. As soon as the show finished it was scheduled that we take a walk in the old town of Klaipeda for some sightseeing. That would give us the opportunity to get to know each other better. We then returned to the school and had lunch.
After lunch the first workshop started. We were divided amongst random groups, and we were told to design different masks. During break a group of Lithuanian girls, with my host being one of them, approached me and tried to create a conversation. We immediately created very strong bonds between us and started talking about our lives and how they differed! We became really good friends and they told me that I should definitely visit their mall in the afternoon to play bowling and then do some shopping, which sounded a great idea!
When we got to the mall I was surprised to see that almost everybody from Comenius were there by coincidence! Patricija, one of the girls from Lithuania, told me that coming to the mall was very common and they used to go there every Saturday. We all played bowling together and, even though I came last, I had an amazing time! We returned home at around 10’o clock in the evening and I shared my first impressions with my host! We then watched a movie together and then went to bed!
On Friday the 23rd, we walked to school early in the morning. We knew that our day would be quite tiring because we’d have three workshops. With our teams again, we were supposed to design a mask for one of the characters of the magic touch and then design our own clothes made out of paper just to get an idea on how each character would look like. We had finished before we even realized it, because as they say, time passes really fast when you are having fun! The teachers then announced us the colors of each character and then a draw was held to decide which mask each country would do! We finished our workshop quite early so that we could go get ready for disco night which would be at 18.00!
The time had finally come and all the students, dressed in nice clothes, started gathering at the hall which was now turned into a disco room! There was also a huge buffet which consisted of all the Lithuanian traditional plates, made by the parents! After we ate the delicious food, Mr. Karolis called each country one by one to perform the traditional dance we had prepared! I think that all of us enjoyed the Lithuanian dance the most, since after they showed us the dance moves, we all joined them and created a big circle holding hands! After the performances we closed the lights and turned the hall into a club! We danced till we dropped and went home at 11.00 feeling exhausted!
After a nice relaxing sleep, we woke up the next day and got ready for our last day. According to the program we would have a trip to the ‘Curonian Spit’ which was a strip of land which jutted into the sea, and we had to take the ferry to get there. The area was very green and the scenery was spectacular. We took plenty of pictures and I will never forget how much fun I had that day. We couldn’t stop laughing with the girls and we’d always find something to talk about.
At around 13.00 o’clock we sat at a restaurant to eat and we then had some free time to walk around the square. At 14.30 we left and went to walk through a forest where we saw plenty of wooden sculptures. Time had passed very quickly and it was now 18.00, time for us to leave. We were all very upset because we knew that the next day we’d all leave and that was our last time all together, united. Mr. Karolis saw just how connected we were with each other and he decided to do something special for us. He thought that it would be better to say our goodbye in a more special way, so he took us to a beach a few meters away. We all all took hands and made a big circle. Each one of us said a few words about this opportunity that we were given to join this project, and tears started rolling down our eyes. We then made a huge ‘family hug’ and said ‘Goodbye Comenius’ out loud. As we were heading towards the bus, we realized that it wasn’t just us who were sad about leaving! God also seemed to be quite upset, since after our last goodbye it started raining!
At night there was this party on ice and our hosts decided to take us there to enjoy our last night. Coming from Cyprus, we were not as good as all the others at ice skating but with the help of our hosts we at least managed not to fall! There was loud music playing and we all enjoyed ourselves! We returned home at around 23.00 o’clock to get some sleep because our flight would be early in the morning.
It was then time for us to say the tough goodbye for the last time. We knew that most of us might not see each other never again which made it even harder. Even though we had only known each other for 4 days we yet felt as if we had known each other for our entire life. We had become so close to each other, shared so many secrets, that saying goodbye to them could have been one of the toughest and hardest things I had even done in my life. I couldn’t stop crying and when the taxi had arrived I didn’t want to get in. After Mrs. Angelides reminded us that we had to go though, we all got into the taxi crying and I promised to myself that I will one day return to visit my friends again. Comenius was one of the best experiences in my life and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Our trip was way better than the best case scenarios I had imagined. Thanks to Comenius, I realized that we all live in our little bubble and we are often ignorant of how other’s people’s lives may differ from the ones we know. So Comenius opened my eyes and showed me that there is a huge wild world out there, waiting for us to explore it! THANK YOU COMENIUS!